“The guilt of not being ‘normal’ was immense.”

Anne, 34, Netherlands

I don’t think I always expected or wanted to be childfree. But I noticed from an early age that I was ‘different’ somehow.

I wasn’t interested in all the giggling about boys and relationships. I thought I’d grow out of it. Surely in my teens I’d get a boyfriend and then the road to marriage, house, kids would begin. Except I didn’t.

I wasn’t interested in anyone. I went on a date once and realised it absolutely horrified me to have to spend time with him and that it would lead to kissing, sex etc. Slowly I realised I was asexual and marriage and kids were not going to be in my life.

It was a very hard process. The guilt of not being ‘normal’ was immense. There was so much pressure to conform and get a relationship. I thought the pangs I felt when friends announced their pregnancy must be my grief for not getting kids myself, but now I know it was grief that our friendship would never be the same again. Despite copious encouragement, I knew it would only make me unhappy to be in a relationship and have kids, and I was struggling with chronic depression already.

At 34, it’s been a long road. People have told me I am selfish, that my life has no meaning without kids. But I can firmly say I never want to be a wife or a mother. I’d probably pass my depressions on, I wouldn’t be able to care for them through my depressive episodes. I adore my friends’ kids! But I’m glad I don’t have any, so I can fully focus on giving myself a fulfilling life through my illness and struggles.